People have many misconceptions about taking antibiotics. We often wonder: When should I take them? Is it OK to save some for later? Can I use them for a cold or viral infection?
To shed some light on this often cloudy subject, we’ll debunk several myths about antibiotics.
Myth 1: Antibiotics kill the bad bacteria
This is partially true. Antibiotics do kill bacteria that cause infections like strep throat, but they can also attack good bacteria, which can allow the bad bacteria to spread. The bad bacteria can also become resistant to the antibiotic you’re taking, creating a superbug.
Myth 2: Antibiotics kill viruses
Sometimes people think if they have a cold or the flu, an antibiotic can get rid of their infection, but this is not the case. Antibiotics only work against bacteria, germs and fungi—not viruses, which cause colds and flus.
Myth 3: Taking leftover antibiotics can’t hurt
If you have leftover antibiotics (which you shouldn’t) from another bacterial infection, do not take them thinking they will help your current illness. Your infection may need a different antibiotic; using the wrong one could make it resistant to antibiotics and turn it into a superbug. Your illness could hang on, untouched by the antibiotic. Or you may have a virus, which the antibiotics won’t help.
Myth 4: If you’re feeling better, you can stop early
Always take your prescription in its entirety. Stopping your dosage early could leave your infection not fully treated, and it could continue to make you sick. Always, always, always take all of your medicine as prescribed by your doctor.
Consult your doctor if you’re not feeling well, because antibiotics may not be what you need to feel better.